Name: Erica Feldmann and Dave Wells
Location: Somerville, MA
Size: 1,100 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years; Rented
Like many millennials, Erica and Dave were drawn to Boston by grad school, and their life path is similar to that of current and past generations: move to a new place, meet somebody, start putting down roots. What is different is this: their apartment doesn’t feel like it belongs to a couple in their first place together. There’s no “starter kit” of hand-me-down furniture or freshly assembled IKEA sets, and it doesn’t feel like their parents flew into town to buy them a sofa (they didn’t). Rather, with a limited budget, keen eye, and clever use of resources, Erica and Dave have crafted a home that's thoughtfully designed and truly their own.
Erica and Dave’s apartment is on the sunny second floor of a classic New England triple-decker in the Spring Hill neighborhood of Somerville, Massachusetts. (Erica jokingly refers to her neighborhood as “March Hill” because it technically lies on the border of Spring and Winter Hills.) The apartment gets lots of natural light during the day, a feature appreciated by Erica and Dave’s two cats, Salem and Moscow.
Erica credits her parents with the foundation of her budget-oriented design. “My dad was a ‘scratch and dent/open-box’ maniac and my mom is great at making something out of nothing,” Erica says. A thrifty upbringing combined with a lifelong spatial awareness — relatives have been asking for her decorating opinion since she was a kid — set Erica on a mission to help others improve their homespace with realistic budgets. Many young people struggle to make rent, let alone a home in the place they rent. Erica’s design philosophy is simple. By using the resources you have – Craigslist, a handy friend, the local thrift store, DIY skills – you can craft a home that suits your style and means. Erica’s efforts recently culminated in the opening of Hauswitch Home & Healing, a brick-and-mortar shop in Salem, Massachusetts.
Dave and Erica share a love for Scandinavian design, which provides a common thread in the fabric of their apartment. And while a lot of the apartment comes from the style-workings of Erica’s brain, Dave plays an important role as a sounding board and second opinion. “She once wanted to paint the wall behind our TV a really dark purple, and I had to stand my ground,” Dave laughs. “We are two very independent individuals, however, as a pair we form this new personality. Where we put things is a product of how we move around together; the art is funny, but it’s different than the jokes I might laugh at with someone else.”
Indeed, snippets of humor and sentiment pop up all over the apartment: a whimsical chain of Polaroid photos in the hall, an old Felix the Cat doll given to Erica by her grandmother in the living room. And best of all, a recent Ken Burns-inspired painting of Teddy Roosevelt, painted by Dave. (An artist by night/weekend, Dave works at the agency Tank Design during the days.) Concerning the 26th President of the United States, Dave explains, “There are a lot of historical figures around our apartment. Bigger-than-life characters who went forward when most people would fall apart. It’s a trait we both really admire.”
Perhaps, the simple screen print above their shared desk says it best: “Make mistakes.” Rather than trite, the sentiment feels brutally honest. What’s the fun in getting it right the first time?
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Scandinavian modern meets eclectic on a budget
Inspiration: Interiors blogs, our shared sense of humor and love of history.
Favorite Element: All the natural light we get! Plus, the French doors separating the dining room and living room had us at hello.
Biggest Challenge: The bathroom has four different types of green tile and a green bathtub.
What Friends Say: “It's so cozy here it feels like such a home.”
Biggest Embarrassment: The cats shred our sofas with their claws like it’s their job.
Proudest DIY: The desk in our studio/guest room. We made it custom for the length of that wall so we could both work there and have plenty of space to lay out projects. It’s so functional and it's not a size easily found (or afforded) in a store. It cost about $100 to make. I (Erica) also made the lighting fixture in that room, which I like a lot.
Biggest Indulgence: Our McCobb dining chairs. We scored a deal at a local vintage shop. So even though they were a splurge for us they still cost less than a lot of new dining chairs on the market.
Best Advice: Be patient and let the pieces find you.
Dream Sources: Schoolhouse Electric, Design Within Reach, ABC Carpet & Home
STUDIO / GUEST ROOM
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